Research

Florida Seeing a Surge of COVID-19 Relocations

Americans are relocating to Florida for its warmer climes and wider spaces. The COVID-19 pandemic is a direct contributor to the trend. Here's how.

The long preferred vacation destination for many, Florida is now seeing a surge of people looking to relocate. This is in sync with a sharp increase in mobility across the US. Interestingly, less than 10% of people moved homes in the US in 2019. The increased mobility, experts suggest, is because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As state governments imposed strict lockdowns at the beginning of 2020 to curb the spread of the virus, it compelled people to work from home. With lesser incentives to live in crowded neighborhoods, the lower population density of Florida seems to be attracting a lot of people. 

A high percentage of this relocation surge to Florida is coming from Northern states, particularly New York. New Yorkers have always fancied the warmer climates of Florida for vacation. Now, with remote work becoming the norm, there are lesser reasons to brave the cold weather of the BIg Apple. Miami, Tampa, and Orlando seem to be the cities of choice for New Yorkers wanting to relocate to the Sunshine State. Florida is also seeing a surge of homebuyers from certain Midwest states. 

The surge is in line with a similar nationwide trend. About 1 in 5 Americans relocated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida, in particular, seems to be a favored destination. Crucial factors such as lower taxes and familiarity are playing a role. Residents from neighboring states have regularly thronged to Florida during vacation season. A permanent move to the Big Orange seems to be right in their comfort zone. Moreover, residents of Florida don’t have to pay state taxes. There are no state real estate taxes, either. Furthermore, residents get a $50,000 tax exemption on their primary residence. 

Real estate data from last year confirms this surge in relocations to Florida. Since May 2020, demand for single-family homes has been increasing exponentially, particularly in Central West Coast and South Florida. According to a report in New York Times, single-family real estate contracts over $1 million have seen a whopping increase of 268 percent compared to 2019.  

Home-buyers are seeking such amenities as bigger home offices, indoor gyms, private pools, and bigger kitchens. Those facts point to a change in consumer behavior, where people are now looking to escape the urban jungle and move to more relaxed spaces. Lower real estate prices compared to neighboring states might be another factor that is contributing to the move towards Florida. The average cost of owning a home in Miami is about one-third that of owning a home in New York. 

Much of this demand is centered around single-family homes. They accounted for a large majority of all residential real estate transactions at the beginning of 2020. However, condominiums are fast catching up. Experts are divided, though, on whether the trend is here to stay; or will big states such as New York find favor among home-buyers again once the pandemic blows over. According to William Frey, a demographer with over 40 years of experience, “These population shifts will be short-lived and we will see a shift again once the pandemic subsides”. For now, though, it looks like the Sunshine State is winning the hearts and minds of Americans. 

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